When a car is for fashion as much as function, you need to keep it looking fresh; this doesn’t just include decking it out with the best-looking tires—upkeep is just as vital.
The pinnacle of cool is white wall tires, but white is notorious for showing dirt and grime.
Not to worry. Here’s how to clean white wall tires:
- Get the tires wet.
- Spray on a cleaning product, or wipe it on with a soaked cloth.
- Scrub with a cleaning pad or a soft-bristled brush.
- Rinse the dirt and product away.
- Consider a degreaser if you plan on sealing your tires.
- Use wax or sealant to keep your tires white (optional.)
What Should I Use To Clean My Tires?
Tires probably aren’t like anything you’ve cleaned before—how much rubber do you have around the house?
You could use any old cleaning substance. After all, tires are tough, thick, and infallible. Right?
Wrong. The substances you use for cleaning may seem harmless, but depending on the product, the acidic and basic ingredients may work to corrode the rubber. Rubber isn’t exactly your marble countertop or tile floor, and we can see how well cleaning substances cut through organic materials in stains.
When it comes to cleaning your tires, look specifically for a tire cleaner.
Adam’s Wheel and Tire Solution is one to consider; its bold color ensures you won’t mix it up with other cleaners, and it comes in a gallon, so you won’t have to buy it too frequently.
Cleaning White Walls Tires: Step By Step
Cleaner in hand, you’ll need a brush or pad for scrubbing and a cloth for smaller stains; also, a hose or four buckets of water to soak and rinse the tires.
Step #1: Wet the Wheels
Toss the buckets of water over the tires, or use a hose, which is easier. Only wet one tire, though—clean each one thoroughly before wetting the next.
You’ll also want to wet your brush or cleaning pad.
Step #2: Add Your Cleaning Product
Now you need to add the cleaner to your wheels. There are three ways to do this:
- Mix the product in with the water you throw on the wheels.
- Use a spray bottle.
- Soak the pad or brush in the cleaner.
The latter two are more direct and waste less product.
Step #3: Get Scrubbing
Here’s where the hard part begins. You can’t expect a top-notch cleaning solution to do all the work.
Get scrubbing with your brush or pad, being careful not to damage the tires. Scratches will show up more on a whitewall tire.
Avoid using a brush with hard bristles or a steel wool pad. But, don’t have a cloth pad or a bendy-bristled brush, either. You’ll want to be able to scratch the dirt off without impacting the thick, durable rubber.
Rinse away any dirt as it runs down the tires, so it doesn’t dry and stain again. Be sure to reapply the cleaning product as you do this.
Step #4: Final Rinsing
When you think the tire is clean, rinse it off for inspection. If you were mistaken, reapply the cleaning product and give it some more elbow grease.
However, they may just be dirt trails and small stains left behind. You could probably get these off with a softer cloth and some vigorous, squeaky rubbing. Be sure to rinse the wheel again after that too.
And there you have it! The caked-on dirt is long gone, so rinse it off your driveway and pretend it never existed.
On the other hand, we all know how well white shows up, even a small scuff. So, how do you prevent yourself from having to do all this work again?
How To Keep Your Whitewall Tires Clean
Tires require as much cleaning maintenance as the rest of your vehicle. In many cases, they need more. For example, if you:
- Frequently drive through mud.
- Have light-colored tires.
You’re going to want to take precautions before they become a more sinister undertaking.
Tip #1: Clean Tires Regularly
To ensure the whitewall tires stay, well, white, consider cleaning them every two weeks.
You don’t need to get deep and go in with the scrubbing brush every time unless you’ve been driving through mud. A simple cleaning cloth and a spray bottle of tire cleaner will do.
If you bought a gallon of the tire cleaning product from earlier, you might want to consider buying both the gallon and the 16-ounce selections. The gallon will be great for deeper cleaning after rain and mud. The 16-ounce spray bottle works for your regular, casual clean.
Tip #2: Dress Your Tires
Your tires are all white and cool! Aren’t they dressed already?
For fashion, maybe—not for practicality.
A water-based tire dresser may not keep the tires clean, but it’ll add a level of UV-protection and make them shiny.
You don’t have to use the dresser after every cleaning, but you should consider it after deep cleaning. Applying it at least once a month will keep your tires looking sharp and performing fantastically, too.
Tip #3: Store Spaciously
If you have spares, change your vehicle’s look regularly, or change tires by the season, you’ll be storing your tires sometimes.
They can gather dirt and stains so easily in storage. It’s like a bike stowed away in winter that’s rust-covered by spring.
Stains come from the black rubber tire backs rubbing against the white portion. So, store your tires side-by-side and cover them with a tarp for the best results.
Whitening Your White Wall Tires
There are also steps you can take to ensure your white tires stay true to their hue.
Sometimes, cleaning doesn’t prevent gradual staining, so you need to add extra steps to your maintenance process.
Method #1: Baking Soda
Baking soda and vinegar is a notorious grime-buster, but when mixed with water, it’s effective, too.
Dampen a cloth, and sprinkle some baking soda on. Don’t get excessive, though; you’re not making a paste.
Once you’ve prepared the cloth, you can rub the tires down. Use slow, circular motions, and erase the staining the way it built up: gradually.
With the entire white walls treated, rinse them down and observe the results. You can repeat the process until you’re satisfied, but there are other methods to try if this doesn’t work.
Method #2: Eraser Cleaning Pads
Here’s a method you can use when needed or after using regular tire cleaner
Grab yourself some eraser cleaning pads and get to work.
Again, work slowly but thoroughly. You’ll get the best results using circular motions and a new pad for each tire.
Method #3: Sandpaper
Here’s a method you should use with caution, but if all else fails, sandpaper can do the trick and keep a whitewall tire white.
It’s a little rough, but if your tires are tough, they can survive.
Most of the time, the sandpaper will only touch the stubborn yellowish buildup that’s keeping your tires from looking the best. So the dirtier your tires, the safer they are from shredding!
Still, keep it as a last resort, yeah?
Method #4: Power Washer
Some power washers are a little too strong for this method, especially petrol-powered ones. You can use them on their lowest setting, but the safest power washer to use is a battery one.
The downside is you’ll need it on high and probably have to charge it between tires.
It’s a simple process to get the tires white again; the power of the water should be enough. However, it may be a lengthy process depending on how bonded the staining is to the tire.
If none of these four methods work, you may have an antiozonant issue. There’s no solution for this apart from new tires.
Preventing White Wall Discoloration
The main reason your whitewall tire will discolor is the environment and possibly age. You can prevent this with regular cleaning and remedy it with the methods above. Still, that’s with the tires yellowing.
Sometimes the staining is brown, and there’s no fixing it; this is called tire blooming. The antiozonant (a preservative) in tires eventually rises to the surface, staining it unpleasantly. It happens on black tires, too.
Unfortunately, you can do nothing once the blooming bursts in; you can take steps to prevent it for longer.
You won’t keep it at bay forever—tires are designed to allow the antiozonant to come forward to protect the tire eventually.
#1: Ask About Mold Releases and Cleaning
Manufacturers use “mold releases” in their tire molds; they’re lubricants that ensure the finished tire comes out of its mold easily.
But often, the manufacturers don’t clean the tires to get rid of the lubricant. In itself, this doesn’t lead to blooming, but it can keep antiozonant on the tire’s surface.
The only way to remedy this is by asking your car or tires manufacturer to thoroughly clean the tires before giving them to you or putting them on the car. Unfortunately, this only works if you get your car or tires custom made. Even then, it’s not fail-proof and won’t keep antiozonant away forever.
#2: Use Tire Wax
Rubber is porous, allowing the antiozonant to travel to the surface easily. But if you seal those pores, it can’t do that as swiftly.
Using tire wax won’t damage the structural integrity of your tires, so long as you use it on the whitewall tire sidewall only.
Tire wax can be hard to come by, so look for it anywhere that sells automobile products, and consult a professional. When you search for it online, you’re bombarded by basic sealants and shiners, which is far from ideal. You need someone who knows their stuff.
You’ll also need to make sure it’s clear or white in color. Smoke tire wax can stain your wheels.
Once you acquire it, you’ll need some degreaser too. This 3D degreaser tire cleaner cleans and degreases, so it should do the trick.
Now that your whitewall tires are free of dirt, grease, and grime, you can wax away, then buff it into the rubber. As you buff, any excess wax will come off.
This will need upkeep, though; it’s not a one-time-prevents-forever thing. Generally, you should be waxing your whitewall tires after every wash.
#3: Tire Sealant
You can also use a tire sealant. Again, it’s difficult to track this down online as most tire sealants you find are for bicycle tubes. Consult an expert, perhaps the one who did your whites, if they were custom made.
A sealant is used least of all the tire coatings. However, it’s incredibly long-lasting—it’ll withstand many washes and stay on for about a year.
The sealant will bond to the tire as if it’s part of it. It doesn’t just block the pores in the rubber but seals and protects the surface entirely. Nothing can get in or out.
Although there are downsides, sealants can be pricey—good thing you’ll only need it annually, right?
They also take a lot of work to apply. It’ll vary by sealant, and all excellent sealants come with instructions. Follow them closely and if you’re in doubt, ask the expert who sold it to you to help. You can learn by watching and be ready to do it yourself next year.
Despite the drain on your time and money, a sealant may work out to be cheaper than wax in both regards. Consider your lifestyle and budget, then look into both options. Pick whichever works best for you.
Cleaning Whitewall Tires With No Supplies
Okay, let’s say you’re away from home, or you spent all your money on the tires and forgot you’d need tire cleaner and other supplies.
In an emergency, you can use regular bleach for cleaning—just please don’t make a habit of it.
Ensure you dilute the bleach well with more water than the cleaning substance; this should help remove some of the potency and reduce the chances of it drying out or eroding your tire.
Now, what do you use to scrub if you don’t have a brush for it? The head of an old sweeping brush, or a short-bristled dustpan brush. Longer bristles will bend too much to be effective.
Avoid yard brushes, though; their bristles will be too stiff and may cause damage.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Clean White Walls Without Leaving Marks?
You clean whitewall tires without leaving marks by being as gentle as possible. Avoid sandpaper unless nothing else works, don’t use harsh brushes and stay away from steel wool. Also, stick to using tire cleaner rather than general cleaning products.
What Is the Best Way To Clean White Wall Tires?
The best way to clean a whitewall tire is with an excellent tire cleaning substance, a soft-bristled scrubbing brush and a cleaning pad. Use circular motions for small stains, and scrub in any direction for caked-on dirt and mud. Clean your tires more gently every two weeks, too, to prevent this scrub-fest from becoming a regular necessity.
Can You Use Bleach To Clean White Wall Tires?
Theoretically, you can use bleach instead of tire cleaner to clean whitewall tires—but it doesn’t mean you should. Since so many acidic and basic ingredients can react with rubber, using household cleaning products may dry out or corrode your tires prematurely. Use a tire cleaner for the best results on whitewall tires.
Why Do White Wall Tires Turn Yellow?
There are many reasons white wall tires turn yellow; heat and UV damage are two contenders. You can prevent the yellowing with a tire dresser. The yellowing may also be oils from the rest of the black tire bleeding through. Or, if you painted the whitewall tires on as a DIY solution, it’s the natural process of oil paint to yellow.
What Is the Brown Stuff on My Tires?
The brown staining on your tires is the result of antiozonant; this is called tire blooming, and it’s permanent. No amount of elbow grease or chemicals will cut through the bloom.
Squeaky Clean Conclusion
Maintaining pearly white tires is a tiring process, but it’s doable. Ensure you clean your tires every two weeks, whiten them when the stains set in, and take steps to prevent tire blooming.
With a dedicated owner, whitewalls tires can go on looking fresh for years. Keep the supplies around to clean whitewall tires, and you can never go wrong.